Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wpial Champ Mars Motivated for 2013

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wpial Champ Mars Motivated for 2013

Article excerpt

In the history of WPIAL girls soccer there have been 14 back-to- back WPIAL champions.

That is still prestigious company for a league that has been crowning champions in multiple classifications since 1983.

Mars became a back-to-back champion last season and the Planets did this season what only two other back-to-back champions have ever done, win its third in a row.

Mars captured its third consecutive WPIAL Class AA title this season to join Sewickley Academy (2002-04) and South Park (2006-08) in achieving that feat.

The Planets wrapped up their season with a 20-2-1 record and a Section 2-AA title to go along with twheir WPIAL title. Their postseason run came to an end with a loss to Mercyhurst Prep in the PIAA quarterfinals.

As much as the third consecutive WPIAL title is an indication of where this program has come in a short period of time under coach Blair Gerlach, the reaction to the PIAA quarterfinal loss was just as telling. The team was hardly content with "just" a WPIAL title; it had its eyes on defending its PIAA title from last season.

"I think [losing in the PIAA quarterfinals] makes us hungrier," Gerlach said. "You have won one, you know what it's like to win it. You don't really know what it's like when you lose it. This settles in your gut a little bit, and you realize, we need to get better."

Mars has gained the respect of many of the programs in the state. The Planets have shown they were hardly a flash in the pan when they took Class AA by storm in 2010. Mars had historically played in Class AAA but after the PIAA divided into three classifications in 2010, Mars dropped to Class AA.

It has yet to lose a game to another WPIAL Class AA program in that time. It is 41-0-1 in section play and 69-3-3 overall since 2010.

"People are pretty invested emotionally and physically in the program," Gerlach said. "The kids are committed."

Mars only graduates five senior starters.

Defenders Jordyn White and Erica Schwab and midfielders Bethany Perri, Trish Glavin and Caitlin Foltz were the senior starters this season. …

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